KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO
Using a software program called Film Thief, Aidan Mancini, 16, of Southold (left) works on an animation project Monday with Andy Nemeth, 13, of Greenport and Oliver Orr, 13, of Mattituck at the East End Student Film Project’s Greenport studio.
Just one block from the Greenport waterfront, in an room above one of the shops on Main Street, four dozen teenagers have been at work all summer, hunched behind cameras and moving coffee beans across the floor for painstaking stop-motion shots.
It’s crunch week at the East End Student Film Project in Greenport — there are just four days left until the group’s annual film festival — and the kids have finally settled on a title for the showpiece short video they’ve been at work on all summer.
Founded five years ago, the EESFP is a nonprofit organization that provides film courses at a modest fee for six weeks in the summer in a rented space on Main Street above a store.
“It’s called ‘Aldo’s: There’s Only One Original,’ ” said 13-year-old Gus Rymer, who was bending clay into letters on Monday to form the title of the part claymation, part animation and part live action video, which will premiere Sunday night at Greenport Village Cinema Sunday night.
The group decided in June that they wanted to make a movie about the eponymous coffee shop owned by Aldo Maiorana, which he reopened last year across from Starbucks, after several years at a location farther west on Front Street.
“Aldo has a different attitude toward business and life, and it may be a good message for kids,” said Damon Maulucci, a young filmmaker from Brooklyn and an EESFP staff member, who’s been working with the kids this summer.
Mr. Maulucci and the student filmmakers worked together even when they were apart. “Early on, we would have Skype meetings,” he explained. “I’d be in Brooklyn and the kids would be in the studio, at the conference table, and we’d be having very serious, in-depth story meetings.”
The film opens with two young girls who “are extremely rigid bureaucrats. One is a young business grad, even though she’s only 11, and one is her intern. One is a manager at a coffee shop called Sawbucks. They’re real bean-counters, pun intended,” said Mr. Maulucci.
The girls, played by film project students Ruby Krakower and Thea Goldman, are seen at the opening of the film debating whether or not to go into Aldo’s to respond to a help wanted sign. Aldo is seen through the plate glass front window coaxing magic coffee beans to walk into a grinder. The girls go in. Aldo agrees to let them mind the shop, and the coffee beans, scones and biscotti begin making mischief in his absence.
“It’s a magical coffee shop where magic happens,” said Ellennora Goldstein, an animator who specializes in claymation and is working with the kids on the project. “If you’re going to do claymation, it has to be magical, otherwise it might as well be live action.”
Aidan Mancini of Southold, 16, has become one of the group’s top clay animators. He was working on a scene on Monday in which clay figures known as dough people were mixing the batter for biscotti.
“We had biscotti men who took hammers and broke up the non-living biscotti as a sabotage,” he said.
“He’s really a natural,” said Ms. Goldstein.
Many of the students working on the film also have their own projects in the works, and every afternoon, the film studio is filled with kids working on their own movies, many of which will be shown at Sunday’s festival, which begins at 6 p.m.
Though films by students across Suffolk County will be included in the festival, program director Paul Henry said he expects “a very good representation of kids from our program” at Sunday’s event. Winners of the various awards will be selected by an independent panel of judges.
“This project is very ambitious,” Mr. Henry said of the magic coffee shop film the students are working on collectively. “Our agenda was to raise the bar and challenge the kids. It never ceases to amaze me how far you can push them. Kids come in here with amazing ideas and incredible motivation.”